Did Democrats conceal the real costs of their health care reform bill? Although Medicare chief actuary Richard Foster released less-than-rosy estimates on April 22, a month after the law passed, some question the timing. In a report that's "burned up conservative blogs" for days, The American Spectator says Foster turned in his report [see PDF] to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius a week before the bill was passed, and that the White House has been sitting on it. "Completely inaccurate," scoffs Foster. Well, it is?
The Spectator post doesn't even make sense: I get why Republican aides and sympathetic bloggers would pounce on this "potentially explosive charge," says Mark Murray at MSNBC. But Foster's office didn't even get the final bill to analyze until March 18 and scoring a complex bill takes weeks, not days.
"Did HHS sweep score under the rug? No"
Democrats knew the gist of the report: Foster's denial does seem "rather straightforward," says Bob Owens at Confederate Yankee, but it "in no way clears" Obama of hiding the "true cost of Obamacare." Foster presumably had "late-stage drafts" of his estimates earlier. A "responsible news media" would ask what those drafts said.
"Who should you believe, The Spectator or the actuary?"
It wouldn't be the first time: Back in 2003, the Bush White House did suppress some of the Medicare actuary's estimates, says Ezra Klein in The Washington Post, burying a damaging report on the Medicare drug benefit. In that case, the actuary's office was "conservative in its cost estimates" — its 2003 projections were 37 percent too high.
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Foster's estimates are "irrelevant": Who cares about the actuary's report? asks Dan Riehl in Riehl World View. The "larger point" still stands, that "Obama and the Democrats rammed through a disastrous bill that will have an impact on all Americans before a thorough analysis of the implications could be done." That's what voters will remember in November.
"HHS' role is irrelevant to actuary report problems"
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